The Hardest Lesson

Early last week, while I was doing my damndest at work while fighting off whatever horrible disease I’d carried home from traveling, another employee walked off the job.  He was in the middle of doing something outside of the store and just left.  He was AWOL for the rest of the week.  Nobody heard from him.  Nobody knew where he went.  Because of that, everyone else was required to cover his shifts.  I had multiple plans that were screwed up because I had to be at work instead of the time I had asked off.  I was sick and tired and angry, and by the end of the week this guy’s name was basically a curse word.

Yesterday as I arrived at work, I was amazed to see that the manager of the store decided that it was okay to have him back at work.  He showed up and started working right next to me.  I was furious.  What did it take to get fired around here?

I was told by the manager that the reason he left was because his mother was dying of cancer.  No explanation beyond that.  No specific reason beyond ‘he felt sad because of his mom’.

It’s true that my anger was a bit deflated by that.  I know what it’s like to lose a parent.  It sucks and it messes with your head.

But as a supposed adult, he needs to actually talk to us.  Tell us what’s happening.  I would not be angry if he said that he needed to take some time to spend with his mother by the bedside.  I would have gladly covered the exact same hours if I had known.  I’m not a complete dick about things like that.  As co-workers, we have each others’ backs.

What this guy learned, I think, was a shitty lesson that I learned when my father died.  Even though everything is falling apart around you, the world keeps on going.  People die every day.  It’s normal.  Unless it’s someone I know, I frankly don’t even care.  I have a job.  The store has to stay open.  The world doesn’t stop because you’re grieving.  That’s a hard lesson, but it gives a valuable perspective.  Everyone has to go through this at some point.  But you need to tell other people what you’re going through.  We’ll give you the time and space to work it out, and then you have to come back to work.

But we’re all alive at the moment (right?), so let’s carry on.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. govneh says:

    Have you read God, No! by Penn Jillette? The story he tells about working while his father died always stuck with me. If you haven’t, let me know and I’ll send you a copy, it’s an interesting read.

    Like

    1. swamifred says:

      I have that book, and I somewhat remember that section of it. I might have to read it again to recall the whole story. Also, Penn occasionally mentions his father on his podcast, Penn’s Sunday School. On one episode, I think he even told that exact story.

      Like

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